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Fiction #253
(published November 17, 2005)
Almost Flushed
by R.A. Lubow
I begin the long trek to the basement, thinking I'll sleep on the cold futon in the small room at the base of the stairs...a futon from the past that smelled like possibility and my parents' garage; the nothing-left-to-lose freedom Joplin sang of.

Passing through the kitchen I see the two frogs.

It had been days since the tadpoles changed to frogs and they still aren't eating the crickets. I figured the frogs were starving and the crickets were, too. If the frogs die first will the crickets eat the frogs?

I catch a slow housefly. I don't want to touch it, but it's my job. I cup it against the window and put it in the terrarium.

I don't see the frog now; he's hiding. I pull the plastic cave and he jumps and lands in the water at the bottom.

He's having trouble getting out of the puddle.

Can frogs breathe under water? Yes, they are amphibious. That's the whole point of the word amphibian, I think. Maybe only tadpoles are amphibians, and frogs are reptiles and not all reptiles are amphibians. Or are they? Maybe I'm thinking of invertebrates.

Later the frog is belly up in the water. I scoop him out. Poke. Prod.

Frog's dead.

Should I flush him?

My wife: "I guess so."

I almost do, but instead take him outside to let a bird eat him. I put him on the sidewalk and go back inside.

Later I jog while listening to a new band that sounds like the Beatles.

I tried to sound like the Beatles once. No one ever said I did, though. Once someone said they could tell I was trying to sound like the Beatles, but that's not the same thing.

When I stopped doing music I started doing advertising. My music is behind me. I catch flies for my family, so to speak, and no, I don't want to touch them (the flies) but it's my job (advertising).

So I'm running around the block. Back home I see my pregnant wife holding something in her hand. She looks mad.

Her: "Where did you leave that frog?"

Me: "On the sidewalk."

Her: "I thought you flushed him. You said he was dead."

She has an eye for birds. She had seen a suspicious robin, went out to investigate, and found the frog. The little robin was tugging on the frog and my wife shoed the bird away.

The frog was in her hand. His muscle tone had returned. He was alive.

Me: "Good thing I didn't flush him."

Her: "Yeah."

Me: "He was dead."

Her: "No, he wasn't. He was just scared."

I jogged off and felt cold acid rain sprinkling over a hot skillet about two inches south of my naso-pharynx — a reverse-orgasm inner sob that felt good and lasted three seconds.

The end.

I kept running. Listening to the Beatley band thinking this thing about my big pregnant beautiful wife saving this frog might make a good story. It's times like this I wish I knew how to write.

But I can type so maybe I can tell the story of the frog. Maybe I could type a story that people will like. Writers get to sleep late. And when they keep quiet at a party, people think they're thinking about something cool.

The frog story seems good...like there might be symbolism. And it made me cry sort of, so maybe it will make someone else cry, too.

Maybe this was the runner's high talking, but I told myself I'd get back home and write it all down about the frog. But I got back and my wife went into labor and we had to rush to the hospital.

By the time I actually got back...most of the stuff I was thinking about when I was running lost its power.

But I typed it and there it was on the page. It was this thing you're reading now and I don't know if you're bored reading it but I'm 65% sure you're bored on some level. The writing is not that good. Not that I'd know.

I almost flushed him. And then a bird almost ate him. But the frog is still alive. But far from free.

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